February 13, 2006

Identifying with Richard Baxter's Reaction Against Antinomianism

Packer writes:
The discovery that the views he had so zealously canvassed really subverted the gospel marked Baxter for life. He had burned his theological fingers, and he never forgot it. In 1653, he put on paper the following solemn warning:
All young Students that will deign to take advice from so mean a man as I, as ever you would preserve your graces…preserve your Judgments; and as ever you would maintain the Doctrine of Christ, take heed of the Errors of the Antinomians…That Christ’s satisfaction is ours…before the Application; and that…we are actually Pardoned, Justified, Reconciled and Adopted by it before we were born, much more before we believe…That pardon of sin is nothing but Velle non Punire: That Justification by Faith is nothing but Justification in foro conscientiae, or the sense of that in our hearts, which was really ours from eternity…That Justifying faith is the feeling or apprehension of God’s eternal love, Remission and Adoption. I say, take heed of these master-Points of Antinomianism. And as ever you would avoid these, take heed how you receive them on the reputation and plausible words of any Writer: and especially of Dr. Twiss, who is full of such passages…For you know, if you receive these, then you must receive the rest, if you discern the concatenation. For if all your sins were pardoned as soon as Christ died, then what need you pray for pardon, or Repent or Believe…for pardon? Then God loved you as well when you were his enemies, as since; and then how can you be restrained from sin?…I speak…mainly for God’s glory and Truth, and for the love of souls. I take my self the rather bound to it, because I was once drawn my self to some of these opinions by the mere high estimation of Mr. Pemble and Dr. Twisse.
Baxter had himself “discerned the concatenation,” and he wrote with feeling. He felt he had had a narrow escape.
J. I. Packer, The Redemption & Restoration of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter (Vancouver, British Columbia: Regent Publishing, 2003), 205.

This book by Packer is well-worth getting!

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